Sunday 30 December 2012

Spectrum Is Green

To be a child in the sixties  was to have your imagination given wings by Gerry Anderson: Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet rolled out like a drumbeat from 1961 to 1968.

As a tribute, I painted Capt Scarlet, Lt Green and Lt Yellow. Models from Crooked Dice.

Gerry Anderson died on 26th December, 2012.

Friday 28 December 2012


This is Schrawynghop, the Marsh of Daemons, Oare Marshes in modern English, on Swale Creek off the Medway. Nearby are the Shining Cliffs, the white chalk cliffs of Kent. In the Anglo-Saxon story Beowulf, the oldest in the English language, the monster Grendal lived here.

The Kent marshes are largely drained now but the heavy rain this year has saturated the soil, returning this last remnant to something resembling its original state.

Looking out on the Isle of Harty from the site of Harty Ferry. Harty is now part of the Isle of Sheppy. This is the probable site of Heorot in the poem. In the Dark Ages Harty would have been a hill in a marsh open to the sea to the east at Warden Point. The Swale has been heavily canalised like most English waterways.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Dark Angel Deathwing

Finished my Dark Vengeance Dark Angel termies. Only the biks to go and then for the cultists.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Bolt Action: Japanese Field Gun

A closer look at my Imperial Japanese Light Field Gun.

This is a new model from Warlord Games.

Personally, I think the sword is probably more dangerous. That gun is positively rubbish. The British equivalent was the 25pdr, a much more serious weapon that could take out a panzer with a smidgeon of luck.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Painting Spearmen

A couple of weeks ago  had an interesting chat with John Treadaway, whose views on many wargame issue are Sympatico with my own, about painting 'spearmen'.

In most wargame armies the bulk of the troops are the ordinary spearmen, the guys trailing a pike or carrying a musket. That is a lot of models to paint in similar colours. A block of soldiers are best given a coherent paint theme, even if they lacked it in real life, because it looks better on the wargame table and is useful for identifying units in games where the individual soldiers spread out a bit.

I confess, I am not a fan of the 'White Dwarf' paint techniques for wargaming models, as opposed to display models. You know the sort of thing, models painted by commercial artists in intricate detail to look good in close up photography. Please don't misunderstand me. I admire the skill of these artists immensely but their techniques are damn all use to wargamers for three reasons.

1. Most of us lack the artistic talent to recreate the techniques no matter how hard we try.

I can kick a ball but all the training in the world won't turn me into David Beckham.

2. Even if you could paint like a commercial artist, the results don't look particularly good on the wargame table.

The styles are too fussy, with too much detail. An army of display models look like a legoland house when viewed from a couple of metres away: all those colours and shades.

3. You don't have time.

And this is the final killer. How long would it take to paint the cannon-fodder, the major constituent of your army?

For example, I picked up a couple of packs of Westwind WWII British Army metal rifleman to populate my Bolt Action British force. That's them above.

I needed to paint them in a couple of evenings so this is the technique I have evolved over forty years of wargaming. Please, please, I am not setting  up as some sort of artistic guru - I have all the artistic skills of a hagfish - but I am an experienced wargamer.

So this is how I paint 'spearmen'.

1. Clean, assemble, stick everything together.
2. Spray white: Vallejo white undercoat is good but there are plenty of others.
3. Cover the whole  model with a sloppy diluted colour of the primary cover - Khaki in this instance - so it forms natural shading.
4. Paint in the additional colours: in this case flesh, mid-green (helmets), silver (bayonets) and dark brown (rifles, boots and base).
5. When properly dry, cover with a diluted dark brown wash.
6. White glue static grass to the base (or whatever) and give a light coating of Vallejo acrylic matt varnish.

Quick, simple, and minimal talent required but the models look OK en masse on the wargames table.

And then you go wargaming, which is the point of the exercise. Yes?

Happy Xmas

Happy Xmas everyone.

(Pic from Battlefront)

Monday 24 December 2012

Bolt Action Japanese Force

Finished my small skirmish army for the Imperial Japanese Army.

Consists of:
1. Commander with bannerman and radioman.
2. Three sections of infantry.
3. Light mortar.
4. Medium Machine Gun.
5. Light Field Gun
6. Medium Tank

The medium tank is really a light tank by anyone else's definition. The Chi Ha had trouble dealing with M3 Stuarts, let along Grants or Shermans.

Sunday 23 December 2012

Dark Angels Tactical Squad

Still plugging my way through the Dark vengeance miniatures. And here we have a tactical squad in sombre tones. The only splash of bright colours are on the plasma gun coils and the helmet vision prisms.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Dreams of London: Abandoned

London has been the greatest city in Europe, arguably the greatest in the world, for five hundred years. Here gathered from the net are some dreams of an abandoned London.

Friday 21 December 2012

Dark Angel HQ's

I have started painting my Dark Vengeance Dark Angels.

I wanted them to look sombre, as befits the unforgiven. These two are about as flashy as it will get.

I like the chaplain but not the commander model. He just doesn't look right.

Next up the tactical marines.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Dark Angel Codex Leaked

Go here for some pics from inside of the new gear.

There's some natty new landspeeders for the Ravenwing.

Cultists! Cleanse!

Cleansing cultists at the the Temple of Mannon, otherwise known as the Bluewater Regional Shopping Centre in Kent.

Birdspotting at Bluewater

The giant Bluewater shopping centre isn't the first place I would think of for bird spotting but this Heron was patrolling the 'pirate lake' outside Harry Ramsden's Fish and chip shop. May not be a coincidence.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Space Marines and the Slavers

Oh dear, the creatively challenged suits and corporate lawyers at Games Workshop are making themselves look foolish again.

Apparently, they have forced a book off Amazon for infringing their trademark "Space Marine". The book in question is Spots the Space Marine by MCA Hogarth. Do they own the words space and marine when put together? It depends. They own the right to produce miniatures under that name and other related specific uses.

But it is ridiculous to suggest that no one can use those words for a story title. Observe above. This was published in 1936, and it is a sequel to Captain Brinks and the Space Marines, published in 1932.  There are later uses of the words by other authors.

The term "Space Marine" has also been used in: books by Robert Heinlein, who invented the armoured space soldier: Star Troopers, and John Ringo; Games like Doom, Quake, Timesplitters, Eat Lead, Alien Storm, and Freefall Tournament; and the film Starblazers.

Dr Who had Marine Space Corps back in '73: Death of the Daleks.

Using their economic muscle to bully some poor little web author like this makes GW look not only stupid but also bullying.

Monday 17 December 2012

Beyond the Gates of Antares

Beyond the Gates of Antares lies a dangerous new universe by Rick Priestley.

Some notes on gun crime and private ownership

Global statistics for private gun ownership and gun killings
This is a repeat I put up on my Baen's Bar writing blog: I love Lucy.
 I thought readers of this blog might find it interesting to look at some actual data. I am a career number cruncher, data analyst, and so have professional experience in numbers: numbers are real, political slogans are just bullshit.

Please remember, I am English and live in England so I have no personal axe to grind over American gun laws/ gun culture.

OK here's the data:

Who owns private guns?
Broadly speaking the first world. Gun ownership is highest in Anglic America and European countries such as France, Germany, Norway Sweden. The USA has the highest private gun ownership of any nation at 0.9 per head. In comparison, France has 0.3 per head, Sweden 0.3 and England & Wales 0.1. Brazil has only 0.1 guns per head, Mexico 0.1, Egypt 0.0
1. Rich country's citizens can afford guns (see also cars, tablets and other consumer items). Mostly gun ownership correlates loosely with wealth.
2. America's gun problems will not be solved by more gun ownership. The country is saturated with private guns. People who imagine machine guns in every school will stop school killings are talking nonsense.
3. Gun ownership has nothing to do with 'freedom', however it is defined. Liberal democracies with high levels of personal rights/ freedoms vary in private ownership of firearms from 0.1 (England) to 0.9 (USA).

Where do gun killings happen?
Brazil has gun deaths of 18.1 /10p-5, Columbia 27.1, Venezuela 37.0. It drops rapidly at the fringes. For example, Argentina 3.1, Chile 2.2 (cf Spain 0.2.). In North America, Mexico is 10.0, the USA, 3.0,  Canada 0.5. Figures for Europe are England & Wales 0.1, France 0.1, Sweden 0.5. 

1. Private gun ownership is not connected directly with gun crime.
2. New World culture uses guns against fellow citizens way more than the Old World. There are exceptions, eg Canada has European levels gun crime, South Africa has Americas levels.
3. One disturbing conclusion is that ex modern- world slave-economies (Brazil to USA geographically) have high gun crime. South Africa has many characteristics of an ex slave-economy.
4. More religious ceremonies won't help. Peoples of the Americas already attend far more religious ceremonies than the peoples of Europe.

My personal conclusions?
The problem the USA faces is not so much private gun ownership as such but cultural attitudes to guns. Private guns in Europe are culturally largely sports devices not weapons. England has such a low private ownership because guns are restricted to expensive sports (clay pigeon and grouse shooting) or vermin control by our tiny rural population. We have nothing to hunt and a strong anti animal-cruelty culture. French and German citizens have more to hunt and also hunt things the English wouldn't  like garden birds. Sweden has even more big game.

In the USA, many guns are man-killers bought not for sport/ vermin control but for use against fellow citizens under certain circumstances  defending myself/ my family. And that is the problem. Man-killers are easy to hand when people lose control and there is a pre-cultural attitude to see them as weapons. What is a punch up or improvised weapon fight in England leading to injuries becomes gun-deaths in the USA. You can kill people with your bare hands or a kitchen knife but you probably won't. A nutter certainly can't carry out a mass public killing with an improvised weapon. Other men take him out.

The second problem is that the words 'self-defence' means different things to different people. It's not the reasonable man that is the problem but the nutter. 

A Texan wargaming friend of mind is a gun collector and avid hunter. He's no more dangerous than the average Swede. An English wargaming friend of mine is also a gun collector. Under English law they are deactivated (military weapons). That doesn't bother him because we have nothing to hunt.

But slaughtering children from the society that 'oppresses' them is self-defence to a psycho.

No idea. Suspect there isn't one. Not a quick fix anyway.
England's gun laws enacted by our democratic parliament are a product of English cultural attitude to guns, not the other way around.

Americans can't have gun control unless ordinary Americans change their attitude to guns and become Old Word rather than New World, but in that case gun control isn't an issue anyway. In a democracy the law reflects public opinion. It doesn't create it.

Black Ork Down

I am making a real effort to finish my Orky Airborne, Da Green Devils now that we have flying rules in 40K.

This is the infamous Black Ork warcopta, two supablastas, twin-linked rocket launcher and two grot turrets with big blastas. It also carries ten boyz. Use as a fast 'closed' skimmer.

Sorry about the rubbish photos. We are deep in the North European winter light and so I have to use flash.

Friday 14 December 2012

Hydra Galacteers

More 28 mil models from Hydra. These are a pack of Galacteers and a Galacteer heavy weapon trooper.

I decided to paint them in bright 'comic' colours as befits pulp star troopers.

I really like these models. They are pricey in the UK as imports but, I think, worth it. I will probably get some more in the new year.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Da Green Devils

Da Mek has decided to upgrade da Squadron to a full blown airborne mob.

So some new heavy stuff is coming off the old producshun line, to whit, a Flying Fortress bomba, a Tyfoon strike plane, and a Blackork skimmer.

Dey need a lick 'o paint to make 'em go fasta but then it'll be chocs away for the wild blue yonda.

Monday 10 December 2012

Giant Killer Robot

I am a sucker for Flash Gordon/ Dan Dare pulp SF stuff so I was instantly drawn to the Retro-Rayguns range from Hydra Miniatures available in the Uk from Wargames Emporium.

I tried a new technique with the base of my Giant Killer Robot. I covered it in Tamiya textured paint, pavement effect, and sparingly sprinkled synthetic snow and chalk chips on to give a moon surface effect.

The robotwas sprayed with Humbrol metallic brass which is exactly the same tone as the old Citadel Shining Gold. Very useful for touching up after washing with Citadel brown.

Sunday 9 December 2012


The sun rose slowly on another long day. Crystal showers of frozen air fell gently, sublimed upwards under the sun's rays, only to refreeze and fall again. Fine snow littered the surface like baking sugar, lending the splintered landscape a surreal beauty. This was a place of dialectical extremes, of hot and cold, of light and dark and of stone and dust.
The only splash of colour came from Sarah's multiple reflections in the viewing port. Convention decreed that her long dress and tailored jacket be Royal Navy blue, her blouse cream, but she was allowed to express some individuality in a neck tie and the band around her straw hat. She elected to wear a defiant red.
Sarah was too keyed up to enjoy the bleak landscape. She gazed out of the porthole, lost in her thoughts, disinterested in the view.
"Ma'am?" a piping voice sounded behind her.
She turned, moving carefully so that her skirt would not fly up.
A boy in a midshipman's uniform half made a salute then thought better of it.
"Is that your sea trunk, ma'am?"
She nodded in assent and he clicked his fingers at the porters. Two Selenites scuttled forward, sharp claws tapping on the stone floor. Like all lunar natives, they were six limbed but their exoskeleton was without the tripartite division that characterised the insect body. The size of a large dog, they stood mostly on four legs so that their front claws could be used as hands. The Queen Below bred them for Port Bedford's use as part of the Co-operation Pact with the British Empire. A not unpleasant wet-straw smell drifted off the creatures as they grappled with her luggage.
"The captain presents his compliments, ma'am, and asks you to accompany me to the ship."
"Thank you," she said. "Lead on."
They made a strange crocodile through the narrow corridors, the midshipman in front, her behind, and the Selenites bringing up the rear. Convention decreed that they should walk in single file on the right. This necessitated one of the Selenites walking backwards, something that seemed to discommode him not at all. She thought of the Selenite as "him," though "it" was probably a more accurate pronoun for a sterile worker.

Storming Hell by John Lambshead (opening paragraphs)

Saturday 8 December 2012

Bolt Action: 6pdr

By Normandy, the British six pdr was the standard gun for infantry division anti-tank units. The Royal Artillery had shifted to the fearsome 17pdr. This gun was also the standard AT weapon for American infantry.

It had a similar performance to a German long-barreled 50mm gun, being a compromise between power and weight. The heavier anti-tank guns like the 17pdr or Pak 88mm were clumsy oversized weapons.

Bolt Action rules use a 3-man crew so I model the crew and weapon on one base for convenience.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Drop Zone Commander 'Clearance Sale'

Total Wargamer have a clearance sale running offering what looks like pretty much the full range Drop Zone Commander at 30% off RRP. That's £20 off the cost of a starter army. Even the rulebook is 20% off.

Very strange for such a new line to be discounted so heavily so quickly. Does this mean it is selling incredibly badly so TW are dumping or that it has sold so well that economy of scale is kicking in? Or maybe it means nothing at all!

But I have noticed some customer resistance here and here.

Another Bloody Tank!

The quote is from my long suffering wife.

A Warlord Games Bolt Action soft resin Matilda II. This was the best British tank of the early war, causing havoc at Arras in France in 1940, and against the Italians in Africa. Drawbacks were the small two-man turret and very slow speed. Advantages included a decent 2pdr AT gun capable of defeating all opposing armour in 1940 and heavy (for the time) armour that was effective against anything but an 88mm Flak gun. The Matilda was shipped to Russia as lend lease in '41.

A great kit that comes with a metal commander. I painted it in two tone green north European camo with Citadel wash to dirt it up and Tamiya mud paste around the tracks.

For those who care about such things, the photo was taken with a Nikon D60 using a standard 18-55 DX telephoto lens equipped with VR antishake.

We are in the north European winter so  took the pick indoors using a camera-mounted TTL flash equipped with a disperser. The gun was aimed up at a white matt ceiling which spreads the light avoiding harsh shadows.

Background is an A4 manilla envelope. the matt brown surface is nicely neutral allowing me to use auto-settings, which cannot be done with a white background.

The photo was shrunk  and the light balance tweaked using Paint Shop Pro. PSP always wants to increase the focussing, which I find should be avoided as it does strange things to the colour blending on a model.

Monday 3 December 2012

Bolt Action Skoda 38 (t)

It is sometimes forgotten how important Czech equipment was to the 3rd Reich's war effort, especially in the 'Blitzkrieg years'. If Hitler had only been stopped earlier...

This is the Bolt Action 28 mil Pz 38(t), the t meaning tschechisch or Czech.

In northern Russia in 1941, the crews of these light tanks went up against T34s and KVs, an unattractive proposition. But then, Russian tank design made everyone else's AFVs obsolete so the Pz 38 (t)s and 35(t)s were in good company.

Another nice kit in light 'soft' GW-type resin.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Bolt Action: Russian AFVs

The T34 and SU76 were the two most abundant Soviet AFVs of WWII: over 150,000in the case of the T34.

The T34 was arguably the world's first main battle tank, a paragon of mobility, sloped armour and a dual purpose HE and AT gun that could defeat all extant enemy AFVs. The only drawback was a two man turret: only the Germans had woken up to the need for a three man turret for a commander free of other jobs. This was rectified with the uparmoured T34/85 fitted with the ZiS 85mm gun.

The SU76 was a SP artillery piece with the same ZiS 3 76.2mm gun that origially armed the T34. It was not entirely liked by its crews, who nicknamed it 'the little bitch' or the 'bare-arsed Ferdinand', but it was undeniably effective. The AFV was based on the T70 light tank chassis. The T70 was an obsolete death trap used to fill out the Soviet tank brigades in '43.

These two AFVs did more than any other to win WWII.

The models are both Bolt Action soft resin models and are superbly detailed. They come with crew - look at the cynical posture of the tanker leaning on his vehicle hatch.  They should add some much needed punch to my Soviet battlegroup.

Alien Invaders

Have been stricken by the wretched 'flu virus this week. I have had the jab but it only protects against last year's bug.

Oh well, onward and upward.